European Union mulls new Net neutrality policies

June 5, 2013 at 5:40 PM
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BRUSSELS, June 5 (UPI) -- The European Union has proposed net neutrality rules that would see ISPs barred from blocking or throttling customers' access to services that rival their own.

Plans to mandate Net neutrality now being advocated by the European Commission's digital chief, commission Vice President Neelie Kroes, would prevent anti-competitive blocking of rival services, ZDNet reported Wednesday.

Around 100 million Europeans face restrictions on their Internet services as ISPs are resistant to giving customers access to services that compete with their own offerings, the commission said.

Some services such as Skype and WhatsApp are being deliberately choked or blocked by some ISP "simply to avoid the competition," Kroes said.

A 2011 study by European regulators found services were blocked or degraded, often without users' knowledge, on around one in five land lines and for more than one in three mobile users.

"In my view, such ideas are on their way out," Kroes said. "Most consumers see the richness and vibrancy of the full, unlimited Internet and wouldn't want anything less."

"Equally, it's clear to me that many Europeans expect protection against such commercial tactics. And that is exactly the EU safeguard we will be providing. A safeguard for every European, on every device, on every network: a guarantee of access to the full and open Internet, without any blocking or throttling of competing services."

The commission would be deciding the Net neutrality plans should be put forward as a "legal recommendation" or a "regulation," Kroes said.

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